Friday 3 October 2008

Emirates continues Team New Zealand support and Backs New TP52 Campaign

by Warren Douglas

Emirates, the Dubai-based global airline, on Wednesday confirmed its continued support for New Zealand and the sport of sailing by renewing its successful partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand.

Following on from last week’s announcement that Emirates has become the first Worldwide Partner to sign up for Rugby World Cup 2011, the airline has also committed to backing Emirates Team New Zealand on the Mediterranean TP52 regatta circuit next year.

TP52s are pure racing platforms, high performance monohulls capable of racing in both buoy regattas and offshore races. They are 52ft long and race with a crew of 15.

TP52s do not have water ballast, canting keels or running back stays; owners preferring to keep it simple, safe and reliable. They can easily exceed 25 knots off the wind and frequently break 30 knots, and have won the majority of bluewater regattas that they have entered, as well as a number of high-profile buoy races against the best boats in the world.

The team has started building a TP52 yacht in Auckland. It will be launched on February 17 and shipped to Europe in mid-March. It will compete under the Emirates banner, with the award-winning airline and Matteo de Nora, a strategic adviser to the team, funding the project.

In signing the sponsorship agreement in Auckland on behalf of Emirates, Gary Chapman, President Group Services, Emirates Group, said: “We saw a fabulous 33rd contest for the America’s Cup, with Emirates Team New Zealand winning the Louis Vuitton challenger series and then putting up a fantastic effort in the America’s Cup challenge itself. We were as inspired by this great challenge as much as the New Zealand public was and we are delighted to once more get behind Emirates Team New Zealand with this TP52 initiative, and beyond to 2011.

“Emirates Team New Zealand has proved its worth on the water as a real competitor, and, it is fair to say, it surpassed our international expectations promotionally on the global stage as a brand builder.

“Our participation has also underlined our commitment to the New Zealand market, in which we are now a key player with four wide-bodied services a day from New Zealand to Dubai and beyond via Australia.

“When we first backed the team in 2004 we saw in it many features that we could relate to, including its drive, focus and competitiveness. The team continues to also seek excellence in all aspects of its operation and in all these respects we feel there a strong compatibility with Emirates Airline as an award-winning international airline.”

Mr. Chapman said Emirates Team New Zealand now had the opportunity to take its performance to another level.

“With new inflight comfort, services and entertainment features in our fleet, and the Airbus A380 super-jumbos coming into New Zealand in 2009, we are also going up another notch.”

Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said the Grand Prix TP52 circuit is one of the most competitive in the world. “A team entry on the circuit is the next logical step in our preparation for a next multi-challenge America’s Cup.

“The Med Cup circuit got going three years ago and each year has got better and better to the point where it is now the absolute top-end of keel boat racing outside the America’s Cup.

Many of the 2007 America’s Cup teams are involved, as teams or crewing on the boats.

The aim has been to use the expertise available within the team to compete on a circuit widely regarded as the most competitive in the world.

The ETNZ TP52 was designed by the team’s principal designer Marcelino Botin and structural and mechanical engineers. Sail and rig designers have also been involved. Members of the sailing team have designed the deck layout and internal systems.

Building started at Cookson Boats on the North Shore on 15th September. It will be launched on 17th February next year. Sea trials and testing will follow and the yacht will be shipped to Europe in mid-March 2009.

Dean Barker said: “The TP52 is still a development class and there’s scope to optimise every part of the boat’s equipment and operation, much as there has been in the America’s Cup Class.

“The TP52 will give us the opportunity to continue to develop and test the sailing team in preparation for the next multi-challenge America’s Cup.”

“With a crew of 15 we will be able to work on combinations and communications that we use on the Cup boats. These boats at 52ft long are like big, high-performance dinghies, something like the new AC 90 class and they definitely reward good crew work.

“If a team is to stay sharp and focused it needs to sail as a team. With a crew of 15, the TP52 will let us work combinations and communications in full-on racing conditions.”

ETNZ sailing team members have been represented on the Med Cup circuit previously, most notably on board Mean Machine the 2006 winner. This year Bribon, often helmed by the King of Spain, was sailed into second place overall by Dean Barker.

Grant Dalton said he appreciated the continued support from the team's naming sponsor, Emirates. "This project and continuing support gives us a team-wide focus while we wait for final resolution to the Oracle/Alinghi legal action.”

Emirates Team New Zealand

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